|Last game (April 7th): TOR 4 MTL 2
The Habs had quite the off-season, highlighted early by drafting Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall, who looks to be the player the Habs have been missing for nearly a decade. And two big trades that saw the former Habs Captain, Max Pacioretty traded to Vegas for Thomas Tatar. Tatar will get a lot of playing time and has showed a lot of promised in the preseason. Montreal also received a second round pick and an A–level center prospect in Nick Suzuki. Suzuki scored a hat-trick in his first game in Owen Sound and will likely be the top center for Canada at this years World Junior Tournament. The other big trade was Alex Galchenyuk, traded to the Coyotes for Max Domi. Domi is the son of Leafs legend Tie Domi. Max, like his Dad, knows how to throw a punch which recently got him in a bit of trouble forcing him to miss most of the preseason. Domi is also an amazing play-maker, who can dazzle with his passing.
On the injury front, Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron both had off season surgery. Byron is ready to play and was recently named an alternate captain along with Brendan Gallagher. The newest captain of the Habs is Shea Weber, who sadly will be out of action until late December after having his knee surgically reconstructed in the off season. If the Habs can stay close to a playoff spot by the time Weber returns, Weber will be a huge boost to the team and could give them that edge down the stretch.
A revamped roster with a lot of players being healthy makes this season quite promising. The team had much better preseason and will look for Carey Price to help them steal a couple games this season. The hopes for the Habs is to be a bubble team to make the playoffs, and anything can happen in the playoffs.
Players to watch
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi
All eyes will be on the Habs rookie, who did more than hold is own against the Leafs in their preseason battle. Kotkaniemi is excited to get the season underway saying its “a little bit more spicy”. He’ll have his work cutout for him, but he belongs with the Habs and the puck seems to always find him.
- Joel Armia
Born in the same town as Kotkaniemi, the two will be line-mates. Armia showed splashes of talent during preseason. He’s a big body, with good speed and a great shot. He’ll have lots of opportunity playing with two big play-makers in Kotkaniemi and Drouin.
- Max Domi
Fresh off his preseason suspension, Domi will be looking to prove his worth on the score sheet in a more positive way than he did the last time he wore the Habs sweater.
Keys to Victory
- Stay out of the box
The Leafs addition of John Tavares has made their power-play more lethal than ever. The Habs penalty-kill was one of the worst last season and tonight is not the night they should be testing it.
- Play quick
The Habs repeated that they need to play with more speed, especially at the back end. You should see less D-to-D passes and more lead passes to capitalize on the speed game.
- Ramp up compete level
With the changes to the roster, the compete level should be a lot better than last year, with less mental breakdowns.